In most instances, a single case of COVID-19 in a school would not warrant closing the entire school. Community spread and how much contact the person with COVID-19 had with others, as well as when such contact took place, will be considered.
These variables will also be considered when determining how long a school, or part of the school, stays closed if closure is necessary. If the spread of COVID-19 within a school is higher than in the community, or if the school is the source of an outbreak, administrators will work with local health officials to determine if temporarily closing the school building is necessary.
When a case is identified, Gallatin City-County Health Department (GCCHD) will work with schools staff to assess exposure (who the person had contact with, for how long, and in what context). The health department and schools staff will communicate to parents when a case is detected in a school, and will work to identify other students or staff who may be close contacts with the known case. (The current definition of a close contact is a person who has been within 6 feet of another person for 15 minutes or more.)
In assessing exposure and identifying close contacts, public health nurses will take into account with whom the case patient had close contact. If available they will assess seating charts and take into consideration the ages of students involved and the systems set up in the school to minimize disease transmission.
If a student or staff member is identified as a close contact with someone who has COVID-19, health department nurses or staff will contact those staff members or the parents/guardians of children involved. Health department nurses will work with families to help them understand their exposure, possible symptoms to monitor, and possible referrals to health care providers to assess symptoms and determine if testing is necessary. In some cases, public health nurses may refer a student or staff directly to a testing center for testing.
Gallatin City-County Health Department will follow guidance from the CDC in determining who needs to be placed in isolation or quarantine. Isolation is the term that refers to separating someone who is sick with COVID-19. Quarantine is the term for someone who was exposed to someone who has the disease, and is at higher risk to develop and spread the disease themselves. Anyone with a laboratory confirmed case of the disease will be required to isolate until they are no longer contagious, typically 10 days from the onset of symptoms.